General Assembly

State Legislators Scored by Green Groups -- Best, Worst Legislators Highlighted in New Rankings

(Harrisburg) – Sierra Club and Clean Water Action released today a new scorecard for all current Pennsylvania state legislators for their support for environmental laws and regulations over the past two years. State House members and State Senators were scored based on floor votes in the legislature, or other official actions taken by legislators on environmental matters.

“Before voters head to the polls next Tuesday, the Environmental Scorecard is a way to see what a state legislators’ actual record has been over the past two years. Voters who care about the environment should hold their elected officials accountable,” stated Jeff Schmidt, Pennsylvania Chapter Director for the Sierra Club.

The two groups noted that there were large differences between legislators who have a history of supporting environmental positions and those who are clearly opposed. Myron Arnowitt, PA State Director for Clean Water Action stated, “It is striking that the House Environmental Resources Committee Chair, Rep. George (D-Clearfield) had one of the highest scores at 92%, while the senior Republican on the House Environmental Resources Committee, Rep. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango) had one of the lowest scores at 13%. This stark difference shows how the outcome of the State House elections could have a big impact on the environment.”

The Environmental Scorecard is available for download at http://www.cleanwateraction.org/pa. Direct link [PDF].

It's a New Day, but not a Good One

Well, everyone, Happy New Year. Now buckle up; we’re in for another rocky ride. Here’s the news that you’ve been waiting for according to yesterday’s Daily News:

With the holidays over, city budget season rears its ugly head.
And while the economic freefall of the past 18 months seems to have stabilized, Philly's dark financial days are not over as tax revenues continue to lag and costly union contracts are looming.

It seems that we have this little problem. Those greedy city workers want a salary increase, and don’t necessarily want to let their pensions and health care benefits drown. Wage tax receipts are likely to be down $50 million this year. Every Department head has been asked to come up with budgets that are down 7.5% from this year’s already shrunken totals.

An Open Letter to Senator Clinton and Senator Obama, organized by the Philadelphia Unemployment Project

From the Philadelphia Unemployment Project

An Open Letter

April 10, 2008

Dear Senator Clinton and Senator Obama:

Healthcare has been central to each of your campaigns. As you work here in advance of the April 22nd primary, we wanted to alert you that healthcare is the number one opportunity we have to improve the lives of working Pennsylvanians right now. We, the undersigned, believe your campaigns could advance the cause of Pennsylvania’s reforms, should you choose to make them an issue.

Early last year, Governor Rendell unveiled an ambitious package of reforms known as The Prescription for Pennsylvania (Rx4PA, www.rxforpa.com). Rx4PA would expand access to health insurance with a high quality healthcare plan. With revisions from the House Democrats, that plan is now known as “Access to Basic Care,” and it passed the House this month in Senate Bill 1137.

Rx4PA would also rein in the forces that have driven up the price of insurance in the small group market, reward employers already providing coverage and insure that no one with a pre-existing condition is denied coverage.These also passed the House of Representatives in House Bill 2098 and House Bill 2005.

If these reforms succeed in the Commonwealth, it will make the arguments for either of your national plans much stronger. Rx4PA’s success should also galvanize your allies in Washington while chastening your opponents.

Pass Cover All Pennsylvanians: our visit to the Northeast

(Philadelphia - 3/4/08) - Outside the City of Philadelphia's Neighborhood Health Center #10 Tuesday, Philadelphia leaders gathered to call on the Northeast House Delegation to support Cover All Pennsylvanians [CAP]. "As a person working without insurance, I'm at risk every day of losing my job because of an injury or sickness whose care I won't be able to pay for," said, Andre Butler, Chair of the Philadelphia Unemployment Project Board and member of the Health Center #10 Community Board.

Speaking through a representative, Deputy Mayor for Health and Opportunity, Don Schwarz, MD, said in a written statement, "It is for this and many other reasons that I am standing with you all today, as health care is being debated in Harrisburg, to affirm my support for CAP, Cover All Pennsylvanians, a proposed health insurance package that would prove health insurance to the uninsured in Pennsylvania."

A hearing of the State House of Representatives Appropriations Committee considered the benefits and funding sources for CAP this afternoon. CAP would cover doctor visits, tests, hospitals stays and prescriptions. Most of the funding would come from existing pools, with a slight increase in tobacco taxes covering the rest. A vote on CAP and reforms in the small group insurance market is expected in the State House next week.

Rx4PA: Doctors join the call for covering the Uninsured

govwithfumoweb.jpg

On Monday we saw Governor Rendell stand with leaders in the Salvation Army and Democratic Legislators. While I'm always excited to find myself on the same side as the Democratic Appropriations Chairman, Sen. Vince Fumo, the real news Monday was that doctors are coming out in numbers saying that they support the Prescription for Pennsylvania. The Orthopedic Society came out and said that they could support using some of the tobacco tax money used to offset their medical malpractice liabilities for covering the uninsured. The Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association took the same stance.

Rx4PA: Doctors join the call for covering the Uninsured

govwithfumoweb.jpg

On Monday we saw Governor Rendell stand with leaders in the Salvation Army and Democratic Legislators. While I'm always excited to find myself on the same side as the Democratic Appropriations Chairman, Sen. Vince Fumo, the real news Monday was that doctors are coming out in numbers saying that they support the Prescription for Pennsylvania. The Orthopedic Society came out and said that they could support using some of the tobacco tax money used to offset their medical malpractice liabilities for covering the uninsured. The Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association took the same stance.

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